Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 743–751 | Cite as

Changes in nesting success and breeding abundance of Spectacled Eiders Somateria fischeri in the Chaun Delta, Chukotka, Russia, 2003–2016

  • Diana V. Solovyeva
  • Sergey L. Vartanyan
  • Morten Frederiksen
  • Anthony D. Fox
Original Paper


The Spectacled Eider Somateria fischeri is a rare sea duck confined to breeding in the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta and Arctic coasts of Alaska and Russia. Almost nothing is known about its status and breeding biology in the Russian Arctic. Stratified systematic nest searches were conducted annually of Spectacled Eider nests on Ayopechan Island in the Chaun Delta, Arctic Russia during 2003–2016. Mean nest densities were stable during 2003–2009 but declined by 8.0% per annum during 2009–2016. Mean clutch size and annual female survival did not change over the same period, during which time annual nest survival and hatching success declined significantly. A simple three age-class matrix model estimated annual asymptotic population growth rate (λ) using observed fecundity from the beginning (1.1 hatched chick per female, λ = 0.864) and end (0.45 hatched chick per female, λ = 0.828) of the study period. This confirmed that to stabilize this population required three immigrant recruits for every local recruit at the beginning of the study and nine towards the end. Declines in annual nest survival appear correlated with (i) declines in nesting Sabine’s Gulls Xema sabini and Arctic Terns Sterna paradisaea with which nesting Spectacled Eiders associated and may have gained protection from predators, and (ii) marginally significant increases in large gull and mammalian predators at the site. Should current trends in nest density and fecundity continue, the survival of this breeding Spectacled Eider population is in jeopardy.


Egg predators Glaucous Gull Hatching success Nest density Nest survival Vega Gull 



The fieldwork on AI was conducted by 2 to 7 volunteers annually to whom we express our warmest gratitude, too many to name here. In 2003–2013, the field work was funded by the Fairbanks Office of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and in 2015–2016 by the Eurasia Department of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Additional funding was provided by Wrangel Island State Reserve in 2003–2007. We are grateful to Chukotka Mining Co of Kinross Gold Corporation for logistic and transportation support in 2010–2016. Finally, grateful thanks to Tinna Christensen and Sari Holopainen for preparing the maps and Thorsten Balsby for fitting the test for a tipping point in the time series on nest densities.

Supplementary material

300_2017_2235_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (43 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 42 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana V. Solovyeva
    • 1
  • Sergey L. Vartanyan
    • 2
  • Morten Frederiksen
    • 3
  • Anthony D. Fox
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Far East BranchRussian Academy of SciencesMagadanRussia
  2. 2.N.A. Shilo North-East Interdisciplinary Scientific Research Institute, Far East BranchRussian Academy of SciencesMagadanRussia
  3. 3.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversityRoskildeDenmark
  4. 4.Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversityRøndeDenmark

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